I’m pleased to welcome Gina Danna back to my blog. She’s a compatriot of the Love Historicals group I belong to. Her topic of slavery is of particular interest to me as I’m just putting the finishing touches on The Rover Defiant, the love story of a freed Viking slave.
Anna – Thanks for having me! After reading several Regency stories about a courtesan and how she met the man of her dreams, who saved her from selling her body to survive, I wondered did they have the male contingent to a courtesan then? A Regency gigolo? The possibility is there. It is a period often noted for the noblemen to have a mistress or courtesan, but what of the wife at home? What if she’s filled her role of having an ‘heir and a spare’ and now alone because her husband has found a new mistress? The probability of ladies seeking a male courtesan are not has high as a man seeking a mistress but the possibility is there. And what rake wouldn’t mind making money off his tumbles? This idea prompted Ethan’s story, The Wicked Bargain.
What of his past as a sex slave in the Middle East? Slavery there reaches staggering amounts of over one million souls enslaved – the ‘infidels’ (the exact numbers are not known as there wasn’t any records kept like the Western Europeans and Americans did via ship manifests, estate listings, sales, etc. To Muslim world, these were the infidels, whether they were from Europe or Africa or even America, and not worthy of keeping recorded. If they died, they’d buy the next shipment).
Barbary pirates have practiced exactly what Ethan went through – the raiding of the ship, the presentation at sale and the following aftermath into slavery that was physical labor, harsh treatment and cruelty. They took people off ships they raided and sometimes they landed on the shores of Greece, Italy and even up to the British Isles, to steal people to sell. Noble men and women were often ransomed and the negotiations over amounts did take immense time. The Catholic countries did better at raising funds for release than the Protestant countries, probably because of the individual dominations of the Protestants didn’t have the uniformed base like Catholic Church did. It could take years before freedom was obtained, years where the slave continued his labors, though usually not the harsh construction work for they needed the person living to get the money.
As to sex slaves, women had a higher chance of being thrown into a harem, either as a servant to help the other women or as a slave sexually used by the owner. These women rarely saw a chance at freedom, regardless of wealth at home and as a member of the harem, the house would raise any children born and if she was freed, the child wasn’t therefore these women remained.
While there was no harem for men, those who were considered ‘pretty’ boys, were often plucked from the cruelty of physical labor to be the sex toy by the Arab men. A white ‘infidel’ male slave to be used for pleasure by an Arab woman was miniscule though a few have been noted. If caught, the sentence was immediate death for him and she was condemned, often with death. Any child brought by such a union was killed instantly as impure.
For Arabella, the opportunity to be a doctor during this time was next to impossible. Medicine itself was emerging out of alchemy to its own science. It was a man’s profession, not ladies. But midwifery was a woman’s role during this time. Men for the most part were not part of the birthing process. The midwife, trained by her mentor, worked to bring the newborn into the world, not a male physician. So Arabella’s plight of watching and helping her father, thus learning medicine, and the inability to exercise that knowledge was a fact most women faced up to the end of the 19th century. Even being a midwife in a city like London meant she had to part of ‘guild’ of midwives. They didn’t just accept outsiders who claimed they knew what to do.
When medical schools for ladies opened in the US in the mid-1800s, in Ohio and New York, their graduates could only practice on women and children. It would take into the 20th century for the views to broaden and men to trust a female doctor, even through she was as highly educated as many of the male doctors.
Blurb: The Wicked Bargain – London 1816
Haunted by a past as a sex slave, nobleman Ethan Warth returns to England as a male courtesan for rich matrons and runs a brothel for wealthy lords. Arabella Covington appears on his door, trained in the medical arts but unable to practice because of her gender. He hires her to care for his ladies but her inquisitive nature and beauty make him desire to teach her the world of seduction. Ethan, however, never counted on falling in love…
Bio: A USAToday Bestselling author, Gina Danna was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and has spent the better part of her life reading. History has always been her love and she spent numerous hours devouring historical romance stories, always dreaming of writing one of her own. After years of writing historical academic papers to achieve her undergraduate and graduate degrees in History, and then for museum programs and exhibits, she has found the time to write her own historical romantic fiction novels.
Now, under the supervision of her three dogs and three cats, she writes amid a library of research books, with her only true break away is to spend time with her other life long dream —her Arabian horse—With him, her muse can play.